In Canada, most adults work outside
Full-time jobs are common. However,
a growing number of people have part-time jobs or temporary
contracts. Women make up a large portion of the work force.
Increasingly, they have important, senior positions.
Canadians often change jobs and
careers several times. This is often a personal choice. Sometimes
people must change jobs because the economy itself changes. Today,
there are more new jobs in service occupations than in
For these and other reasons,
getting a job is not easy. Many people are looking for work.
Unemployment in Canada affects a large number of people -- not just
This situation may surprise you,
especially if you come from a country where careers can last a
lifetime. However, if you prepare yourself well and keep trying, you
will eventually find a job.
Looking for a Job
Information about jobs is available
from many sources. Newspapers have classified advertisements that
list jobs by occupation. Stores needing workers often put a sign in
the window. People you meet may know of a business that is hiring.
It is important to ask people and keep aware of opportunities.
The Human Resource Centers (HRCs)
of Human Resources Development Canada offer useful information and
services for people seeking work. These offices operate as labour
exchanges. Employers list jobs at the HRC so unemployed workers can
register and be made aware of available work.
You can often get help finding a
job from volunteer or immigrant service agencies. Some of these are
specially designed for newcomers. In large cities, there are usually
associations of people who share your background and language who
can help you. You can find these associations and agencies listed in
the telephone book.
A good résumé, also known as a
curriculum vitae (CV), is an important tool in your search for a
job. A résumé is a summary of your qualifications and work
experience. It should be clear, concise and contain the following
- your name, address and telephone
- A history of where you have
worked and the type of jobs you have done; and
- A list of your education and
Networking is also important for
finding a job. This means talking to people you know or meet about
the kind of job you are looking for. The people you talk with may
tell you about a job, or about other people with ideas and
information. Most jobs are not advertised and are filled through
HRC offices and non-governmental or
volunteer agencies can help you learn how to prepare a résumé, to
network, and to promote yourself and your abilities.
Remember: looking for a job
is itself a full-time job. Do not become discouraged. Almost
everyone who is looking for work has many failures before they
Qualifications and Experience
Training and education, as well as
speaking English or French, will improve your chances of getting the
kind of job you want. There is information on job training in the
next section of this book.
If you are a professional, such as
a doctor, lawyer, nurse or engineer, you may not be able to practice
your profession in Canada. In most cases you must re-qualify.
Qualifications vary by profession and province.
Like other Canadians, you may also
have to re-qualify if you move from one province to another. This
may mean studying and writing qualifying exams. The process may take
up to a year. If you do not take steps to re-qualify, you may have
to start again at the bottom of your profession.
In some professions there are
limits to the number of places available for training. In addition,
those who have graduated from Canadian schools usually get
preference. For information on requirements and opportunities,
contact your local immigrant service agency or the relevant
Qualifications alone may not get
you the job you want. Employers look for experienced people who will
become productive immediately. They may not want to hire someone
without Canadian experience or who seems unable to cope with
Because of this, many newcomers
take a first job outside their trade or profession. This often means
working for lower wages than they expect or can eventually earn. You
may want to look for a basic job that will help you learn or improve
your English or French.
Starting with a job that does not
meet your expectations should not limit your potential. Many people
who are now professionals, business people, senior industrialists,
academics and public servants once worked as waiters, manual
workers, cleaners and at other lower-paying jobs.
Discrimination and Exploitation
Canada promotes equality in the
workplace. The law protects people from discrimination based on who
they are. However, it does not interfere with an employer's right to
decide who is the best person for a job.
Laws and customs are changing to
ensure equal pay and opportunities for men and women. However, women
are still sometimes not paid fairly. Women hold only a small
percentage of the highly paid, influential positions.
Each province has a Human Rights
Commission that checks reported acts of discrimination. If you feel
that you have been discriminated against because of your race,
creed, origin or sex, keep a written record of the facts. Then, seek
advice from the Human Rights Commission.
Some people may try to take
advantage of you. You, your friends or a member of your family may
meet dishonest people -- some of whom might speak your language or
even come from your country.
Each province has labour laws
designed to protect workers. If an offer seems contrary to law,
custom or your conscience, check with someone you trust. No honest
business person will object if you take advice from a lawyer or
friend before risking your time or money.
If you feel that you are being
exploited, or that the employment information you have been given is
false, contact Human Resources Development Canada or your provincial
department of labour. These departments can sometimes arrange to
have a person explain the situation in your own language. You may
also wish to contact the Human Rights Commission.
National (general) Holidays
Canadians have several holidays
each year. They provide opportunities to rest from work or school
and to spend time with family and friends.
Depending on which province you
live in, nine or ten official holidays are celebrated each year:
- Christmas Day, December 25;
- Boxing Day, December 26
(observed in most provinces);
- New Year's Day, January 1;
- Good Friday (Easter), which
occurs in March or April;
- Victoria Day, May 24, the
Queen's official birthday (not a holiday in Quebec);
- Canada Day, July 1,
celebrating the birth of the country in 1867;
- The first Monday in August (a
local holiday observed in most provinces);
- Labour Day, the first Monday in
- Thanksgiving Day, the second
Monday in October; and
- Remembrance Day, November 11
(not a full-day holiday for most people).
Government offices, banks and most
businesses close for official holidays. However, many services and
businesses, such as theatres and restaurants, remain open. If you
are required to work on an official holiday, your employer must give
you equivalent time off at a later date or pay you overtime.
In addition to official holidays,
your employer must provide you with a paid vacation- Two weeks is
required by law in most full-time jobs. Your vacation may increase
to three weeks or more once you have been working for the same
company for several years.
Sometimes you may need to be away
from work for religious reasons. Your employer will usually make
suitable arrangements. For example, a colleague may agree to work
for you if you agree to work for him or her some other time. You may
also be able to use part of your normal vacation time in advance.
Once you are employed, you are
eligible to receive several types of income protection and social
benefits. You must help pay for some of these benefits through
deductions on your pay cheque.
Your employer normally deducts
contributions to an Employment Insurance fund from your pay cheque.
If you lose your job, contact a counselor at your nearest Human
Resource Centre. Employment Insurance benefits are not paid to
workers who quit without a good reason, who are fired for a good
reason or who have not worked for a certain period of time.
You must continue to look for
another job while you are collecting Employment Insurance benefits.
Human Resource Centres may be able to offer you an employment
Workers' Compensation and income
support, or disability pension payments, may be available to people
who can no longer work because they have been injured on the job.
You may be required to support this program -- deductions may be
made automatically from your pay cheque.
Nearly 30 percent of all workers in
civilian jobs are members of unions. In a unionized job or industry,
labour and management follow laws, regulations and practices
established through a bargaining process.
It is not necessary to join a union
to get all jobs. However, in some jobs, you must join the union when
you accept the job. Membership in a union requires the payment of
union dues, which are deducted from your pay cheque.
Canada has many organizations that
depend on volunteers. Many Canadians and newcomers give their time
and talent to these organizations. Working as a volunteer is an
excellent way to get job experience, make contacts and show your
skills. Volunteer work is well respected and can give you Canadian
references and experience. It can also help you to meet new people.
A variety of federal and provincial
laws apply to people who operate their own business or work for an
organization. For example:
Minimum wage laws ensure that
employees receive at least basic compensation for their work.
Laws protect employees against
employers who treat them unfairly. Employees can object to unjust
treatment based on sex, age, race, religion or disability.
Safety standards protect employees
from unsafe machinery or workplaces.
Child labour laws control the hours
and types of work that can be offered to minors.
Full-time employees must receive
Employers must deduct income taxes
and certain compulsory payments such as Employment Insurance,
Worker's Compensation and the Canada Pension Plan (in Quebec, the
Quebec Pension Plan). Self-employed people must also contribute to
the Canada Pension Plan.
If you employ members of your
family, you still must observe these laws and regulations.
If you are self-employed, some
business expenses can be deducted from your taxable income. Tax laws
and regulations are complicated. You should get advice on this
subject from National Revenue or a certified accountant.
For further information:
Human Resource Centers are listed
in the government section of the telephone book. Ethnic, national
and religious organizations that offer help to newcomers are found
in your telephone book.
The Business Development Bank of
Canada (BDC) has a book for newcomers interested in starting their
own business in Canada. It is called Starting a Business in Canada:
A Guide for New Canadians. In addition, the BDC offers a wide range
of management training, counseling and planning services for
Fact sheets are available to
newcomers on "Employment" and "Health and Income Security".
EDUCATION AND TRAINING
English and French are the two
official languages of Canada. It is much easier to get help and
adapt to life in Canada if you speak English or French.
If you are interested in expanding
your knowledge of French or English, there is a program paid for by
the federal government, which may be able to help you or a member of
your family. This program is called Language Instruction for
Newcomers to Canada (LINC). To qualify for this program you must be
a permanent resident or someone who has been allowed to remain in
Canada waiting for permanent resident status and who has not become
a Canadian citizen. An immigrant service agency or your local
immigration office should be able to help you enroll in a LINC
If you require advanced training to
help you get job skills or use the skills that you already have
there is a program called Labour Market Language Training (LMLT).
This training can be either in a classroom or on the job. Talk to
your local immigrant service agency or contact a Human Resource
Centre or an immigration office.
Job and Skills Training
In addition to language training
there are a number of other ways that you can train for a new job or
improve the skills that you already have. Universities and colleges
are some of the places where you can improve your skills or learn
new ones. There are also private schools that allow you to complete
a degree faster than at a university or college. An immigrant
service agency or your local Human Resource Centre should be able to
give you a list of educational institutions in your area.
Trade and vocational training is
different in every province. Generally, training is offered at
community colleges or vocational centres. It is sometimes available
at work through government-funded training courses designed for
particular regions or certain groups of people, such as newcomers or
Qualifications for trades such as
hairdressers, electricians and carpenters are controlled in each
province. A tradesperson begins at the apprentice level and then,
after training, on-the-job experience and examinations, progresses
to journeyman. If you move to another province you may have to
In Canada, it is very difficult to
find employment if you have not completed high school or earned an
equivalent diploma. Canadians are starting to realize that learning
does not finish when they receive a diploma or certificate -- it is
continuous. It is common to see older Canadians going back to school
part-time to keep their skills fresh.
For further information:
The Hot 100, A Quick Guide to
Federal Programs and Services for Youth offers comprehensive
information on more than 100 federal government programs and
services for youth in the area of education, training, employment,
business opportunities and travel.
BANKING, SAVING, SPENDING
Your first Canadian pay cheque may
seem large. However, the cost of living may be much higher here than
in your native country. Learning how to budget, save and spend your
money wisely will help you live securely and plan for the future.
Budgeting helps you avoid
overspending and debt. An immigrant service agency can help you
develop your budget. For example, divide your monthly income into
essentials such as rent, food, clothing, transportation and
education expenses (books, paper, etc.). Then decide how much you
should spend on entertainment and luxuries. Make choices --
including the choice not to buy now.
Gross vs. Net Income
The salary your employer has agreed
to pay you will be stated in gross terms. Your take-home or net
salary will be less than the gross amount. Normally, a large portion
of the amount you earn will be deducted automatically from your pay
to pay for taxes and government insurance and benefits programs. In
addition, your employer may require you to contribute to private
company pension plans, union dues, group life insurance and other
The total of all these deductions
can be between one quarter and one third of your total pay cheque.
In other words, the amount you actually receive may be only 65
percent to 75 percent of your gross salary. You should remember that
each of these deductions pays for a benefit, either in terms of job
security, life insurance or a pension.
Necessities vs. Luxuries
Paying for basic food, shelter and
clothing will probably take most of your income. Rent will take a
large portion and so will food. If you eat regularly in restaurants
or buy luxury foods, the cost of feeding your family will be much
higher than if you shop in supermarkets. Careful shopping can also
keep your clothing expenses low.
Luxuries are things you do not
absolutely need. Cars, clothes, travel and long-distance telephone
calls can be necessities or luxuries, depending on your business or
point of view. Alcohol and cigarettes may also be considered
luxuries. They are expensive because they are heavily taxed.
Owning and operating a car is
costly. In addition to the cost of the vehicle, you must pay for
licensing and insurance, gasoline, oil, parking fees and
You can borrow money for any lawful
purpose. This includes getting an education, buying property, or
setting up and running a business. Of course, all borrowed money
must be repaid in full, plus interest.
Many people get loans from banks.
In Canada, the federal government regulates banks. Institutions
other than banks also lend money. There are businesses that do
nothing else. However, some lenders and businesses increase their
profits by increasing the amount of interest they charge. Before you
borrow money, get advice from people you trust.
Credit cards are obtained from
banks. You can also get credit cards from department stores or
gasoline companies. Store or company credit cards usually charge
more interest than bank credit cards.
Credit cards are convenient but
they do have risks. Many credit cards have an annual cost, which you
pay whether or not you use them. In addition, most credit cards
charge you a much higher rate of interest than bank loans. If you
pay only the minimum payment due, all you are doing is paying the
credit card company interest on money it has loaned to you. You are
not paying off your debt.
A Word to the Wise
In Canada you will see many things
that you might like to own. Through advertising, companies encourage
you to buy their products, even if you do not really need them or
cannot afford them. Some salespeople and acquaintances may try very
hard to sell you things. You may feel pressured to borrow and spend
money. It is important to be careful and informed.
Some stores have special programs
that let you pay up to one year later for things that you buy. These
are called deferred payment programs. They may be advertised with
slogans like "Do not pay until..." Be careful to read all the
details of the purchase agreement. If you fail to pay on time, you
will be charged interest from the day you actually took the item
home from the store.
Canada's Tax System
As a newcomer to Canada, you may
wonder how the Canadian income tax system works. Many of the
benefits we enjoy in Canada are made possible by taxes. For example,
Canada's tax system pays for roads, public utilities, schools,
health care, law enforcement and many other important things.
Your Income Tax Return
Income tax applies to all Canadian
residents. If you have questions about your residency status,
contact your local taxation office.
In Canada, taxes are deducted from
most types of income you receive. Each year, residents of Canada
submit an Income Tax Return. This tells the government how much
money you earned that year and determines how much tax you owe the
federal and provincial governments. Like all Canadians, you are
responsible for giving the government true information, and for
calculating how much you should pay.
You have to submit an Income Tax
Return if you lived in Canada for part or all of the year. In some
cases you must pay the government when you submit your return.
However, you may have already paid more than you owe through
deductions on your pay cheque. In this case you may be eligible for
an income tax refund.
If you lived in Quebec during the
year, you may also have to file a separate provincial tax return.
The deadline for submitting your
completed income tax return is April 30. If you submit your forms
late and you owe tax, you will be charged a penalty plus interest.
Child Tax Benefit
The Government of Canada helps
parents provide for their children through the Child Tax Benefit. If
you have children who are under 18 years of age, you may be eligible
for this program. It provides tax-free monthly payments for parents
with children. It also provides financial support for low-income
You must submit an Income Tax
Return to apply for the Child Tax Benefit or the GST credit
(described below), as well as other tax credits.
Goods and Services Tax (GST)
Whenever you buy something, the
Goods and Services Tax (GST) will be added to the price. The GST
does not apply to food you prepare yourself and to certain other
products. However, people with low incomes may be able to get all or
part of this tax refunded through the GST credit. You may apply for
the credit whether or not you have an income, but you must file an
income tax return. More information about the GST credit is
contained in your income tax return.